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James Franco discusses “hurtful” fallout with “closest work friend” Seth Rogen

The actor has addressed the sexual misconduct allegations against him for the first time

By Joe Goggins

James Franco and Seth Rogen in 'The Interview', 2014
The pair have not worked together since the allegations emerged in 2018. (Photo: Alamy)

James Franco has addressed his fallout with Seth Rogen, calling him his “absolute closest work friend” and describing the situation as “hurtful.”

In a new interview with SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle Podcast that will be released in its entirety today (December 23), the actor discusses the sexual misconduct allegations against him for the first time, almost four years after they first surfaced in January 2018. Rogen distanced himself from Franco in an interview with The Times back in May; the long-time collaborators had worked together on the likes of ‘Pineapple Express’, ‘This Is the End’, ‘Sausage Party’, ‘The Interview’ and ’The Disaster Artist’. 

“What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment,” said Rogen when asked about the allegations, “and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that. The truth is that I have not and I do not plan to [work with Franco] right now.” He went on to confirm that the allegations against Franco had affected their relationship.

Speaking to Cagle on the podcast, Franco said that the comments were “hurtful in context”, but that he understood why Rogen made them. “He had to answer for me ‘cause I was silent,” he said. “He had to answer for me, and I don’t want that. So that’s why, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you today: I don’t want Seth or my brother [actor Dave Franco] or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.”

Five women accused Franco of misconduct in January 2018. Four of them were students at his Studio 4 film school at Playhouse West in Los Angeles. Two of them – Toni Gaal and Sarah Tither-Kaplan – took legal action against him in 2019, alleging that he and his business partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.” Franco allegedly coerced acting students into performing explicit sex scenes on camera.

The actor settled the suit for a reported $2.2 million (£1.7 million) earlier this year. Finally addressing the allegations in his talk with Cagle, he admitted to sleeping with students from his school, blaming a sex addiction. He denied that the started the school in order to lure women for sex. “I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it’s consensual, OK,” he said.

He went on to say that he had not considered the power dynamics at play: “At the time, I was not clear-headed.” The comments are Franco’s first in-depth discussion of the allegations; he chalked up his lengthy silence to “[needing] to listen” to “people that were upset with me.”